Free Markets, Free People

2010 Midterms


“But, I’m not bitter…”

Would you like to get a crystal clear insight into the “progressive” mindset.  An informative look into the hard Left’s reaction to this week’s election.  Well, go no further than this diary by Tim Wise at Daily Kos. Mr. Wise is not only miffed at the election, he’s already laying out a picture of the future in which the tables are turned.

You really should read the whole thing. I’d be interested in your responses.

What made me laugh out loud was wondering who Mr. Wise is planning to tax to pay for his socialist utopia, after all the rich white people are dead.


Have you spotted the evolving narrative yet?

Today at his press conference, President Obama claimed that people may have been confused by what he did early on with the massive spending because it was an “emergency” and he had to do something quickly.  Or said another way, he rushed everything through as quickly as he could – despite his promises – because the situation demanded it.  It wasn’t because he wanted too – it was because he had too.  

You know, like the pure pork stimulus bill,  most of which was scheduled to be spent in later years.  And, of course, although many would like to lay TARP completely at Bush’s feet it should be remembered it was a Democratic Congress that passed that and Obama voted yes. 

The point this new meme, of course is to cast himself as much more of a deficit hawk who was put in the position of saving the world (and his reaction argues against any claim of being a deficit hawk, by the way) – the emergency he continued to talk about today.

Timothy Egan at the NYT employs a variation on the theme in an article hilariously entitled, “How Obama saved Capitalism and lost the midterms”.  No.  Really – that’s his claim.  Obama saved Capitalism.  Because intruding on the natural processes of capitalism and not allowing them to take their natural course actually saves capitalism from, well, I suppose capitalism. 

Yeah, it’s a pretty funny in a weird sort of NYT kind of way. 

Most, except perhaps Egan, understand that capitalism isn’t something that “fails”.  It is as much a process as anything and it is built upon the trillions of private individual interactions that voluntarily happen daily.   What Egan claims Obama did isn’t at all true.  What Obama did was prop up crony capitalism by bailing out institutions that had been incentivized by government to behave badly.  End of story.  And then he went on to prop up manufacturers (car companies) that had been managed badly and were failing all on their own.  Neither action has a thing to do with capitalism per se.  Markets reward success and are brutal to failure.  Propping up failure has nothing to do with markets and thus nothing to do with market capitalism.  Had both GM and Chrysler gone under, the best parts would have emerged under some other car company.   The fact is we’d still be going cars today had they gone under, just not those cars.

Obama may not have been among those who created the incentives that created the financial problems  – although it was rather disappointing to see one of them win reelection in MA – but the fact remains that at base, Obama was using borrowed money to keep the government/private bank scam it precipitated from collapsing the whole economy as the bubble they’d created burst.  Again, that’s not a problem of capitalism.

So Egan’s premise?  Well, it’s simply nonsense. 

On the eve of the day after a “shellacking” as Obama called it during the presser, I suppose the left is looking for any silver lining it can find. Even if it is to be found in that for which they claim the president supposedly didn’t get proper credit.  Egan might have had a slight chance at credibility if he’d claimed that the “emergency” actions of the Obama administration had kept the recession from being deeper – that’s at least debatable.

But saving Capitalism?

That’s just ignorance on a stick.

~McQ


Election Reflections

I have a few random thoughts about the midterm election results.

You never run the table.  You always lose a race or two where you th ought you were strong. But what was odd about last night is how the Republican wave simply crashed against the Pacific time  zone. After turning over the Senate seats in Pennsylvania, and especially in the blue states of Wisconsin and Michigan, it’s hard to believe that the Democrats kept Colorado, Washington, and Nevada intact.  There was every indication that two of those states were going to go Republican.  That they didn’t is just puzzling.

There hasn’t been a mid-term House turnover this sweeping since 1938, when a Republican tide essentially ended the New Deal. The 65-seat gain for Republicans means that the Democrats lost more house seats than the Republicans did in 2006 and 2008 combined.

CNN is projecting the final Republican House seat tally will be 243.  I predicted 247 (+/-3).  So, I missed it by one seat.  This means that, of the 43 toss-up seats, more than half broke for the Democrats.  This is the reverse of historical trend, which is that about 55% of toss-up seats break for the majority party. Again, you never run the table.

The less-reported results from last night is that Republicans really swept up at the state level. As Erick Erickson wraps it up:

There will be 18 states subject to reapportionment. The Republicans will control a majority of those — at least ten and maybe a dozen or more. More significantly, a minimum of seventeen state legislative houses have flipped to the Republican Party.

The North Carolina Legislature is Republican for the first time since 1870. Yes, that is Eighteen Seventy.

The Alabama Legislature is Republican for the first time since 1876.

For those saying this is nothing because it is the South, consider these:

The entire Wisconsin and New Hampshire legislatures have flipped to the GOP by wide margins.

The State Houses in Indiana, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio, Iowa, Montana, and Colorado flipped to the GOP.

The Maine and Minnesota Senates flipped to the GOP.

The Texas and Tennessee Houses went from virtually tied to massive Republican gains. The gains in Texas were so big that the Republicans no longer need the Democrats to get state constitutional amendments out of the state legislature.

These gains go all the way down to the municipal level across the nation. That did not happen even in 1994.

That really is a massive change at the state level, and even traditionally blue states were swept up in it.  Since the next legislative session in many of these states will address reapportionment, that has further implications for the next election cycle, when House seats get shuffled.

Lots of new Republican governors in what have been blue states means that the 2012 Republican nominee now has access to pre-existing ground organizations in those states, which did not exist for the last three presidential election cycles.  That means that the nominee will have to spend less in those states to create a ground game from scratch.  That’s not necessarily an election-winning advantage, but it’s and advantage that hasn’t existed in those states for quite a while.

Democrats, including the president, are just impervious to any suggestion that their policies contributed to these losses.  They are saying is was all about jobs and the economy, as if their policies had nothing to do with either.  It’s really a willful blindness.

The California electorate is just…wacky. Take a look at the proposition results. They voted to refuse an $18 vehicle registration surcharge. They refused to allow the state to take local transportation and other funds, and voted to require a 2/3 majority for “fee” increases by reclassifying them–properly–as taxes.  They then elected to allow the legislature to pass a budget by simple majority vote, which will, in many cases, effectively invalidate the other propositions through the budget process.  Republican senators and assemblymen now have essentially no reason to attend the legislative sessions in Sacramento.

Jerry Brown will now teach another generation of Californians what the term “Governor Moonbeam” means. In his victory speech, he sounded quite mad. Now that he has a majority budget vote in the legislature, I have no confidence that the result will be anything other than a financial meltdown in California. The Democrats in California are addicted to spending–mainly in the form of generous benefits to teachers, firefighters, cops, and other government workers.  with a $19 billion deficit, such spending can only be financed by either massive borrowing or massive taxation.  Neither choice can possibly end in a positive economic outcome for the state.  It will, however, teach the country an instructive lesson about what happens when you turn the government over to aging hippies.

California has greatly increased the chance that it will require a massive rescue from the Federal government, at the very same time that the general electorate has chosen a Congress that will be much less likely to approve such a rescue.  So, aging hippies will now be taught an instructive lesson about the nature of reality versus ideology.


First some numbers

Well first a little prediction validation.  The House – I said “196/239 GOP – a solid majority.”  There are still some races to be finalized, but the Republican count presently sits at 239.  I’m no Nate Silver, but I’m pretty pleased with that.

On the Senate, I said “final tally 51/49 Dems.  +8 for the GOP”.  It stands at +6 with the Washington and Colorado  races to go.  Unfortunately I think the Dems will end up taking both of those.

I didn’t do governors here, but at another site, Liberty Pundits, I said the GOP would go 31 –18-1 in total governorships.  Right now it stands at 27 – 15 – 1 with 7 yet to be called.   In those 7, 4 have the GOP candidate with a slight lead and 3 have Dems with a slight lead.  If they finish that way, the total will be 31-18-1.

Some numbers no one paid much attention too but are tied in with the governors races – what happened in some statehouses.  Don’t forget this is a reapportionment year since we’ve had a census.  So the GOP has positioned itself very well with the governorships it has won (or will win).  Yesterday, movement in state legislatures all went to the right.

State Senates shifting control from [Democrats to Republican]:  MN, WI, ME, NH, NY, NC, AL.  From [GOP to Democrats]– zero. State Houses shifting control from [Democrats to Republicans]:  ME, NH, PA, OH, IN, MI, WI, IA, OR, NC, AL.  From [GOP to Democrats]– zero.

That’s big.

More to come.

~McQ


Final Election Predictions

Tomorrow’s the big day. So, I thought I’d join Bruce in tossing out my final pre-election prognostications (with error bars).

House: Republicans 247, Democrats 188 (+/-3)

Senate: Democrats 50, Republicans 50 (+/-1)

The Senate is the real imponderable here. With Patty Murray leading by only 0.3% in a watershed year, I’m going to go ahead and tentatively call this one for Dino Rossi. But this one could go either way, so worst case for the Senate, I think, is a 51/50 Democrat chamber. I also think it might be days before we know that final Senate number, too.


Democrats await Armageddon as youth vote deserts them

All the signs are there.   Independents breaking hard for the GOP.  Senior voters, a demographic the Democrats usually own, dissatisfied with the health care bill.  And the youth vote that was so large in 2008 is unengaged in 2010.

In fact, young people are now feeling “abandoned.”  And that has translated into a noticeable lack of enthusiasm on the college campus – a hotbed of Obama and thereby Democratic support:

Now, however, former Obama volunteers nationwide say that they and their former colleagues are less involved and more ambivalent. Experts say the usual midterm effect, in which young voters are especially likely to disengage, has combined with an unexpected distance that has arisen between Mr. Obama and many young constituents. While most of them still view him more favorably than their parents or grandparents do, various polls show that the youthful passion that led to action has not been sustained.

“They were emotionally invested,” said Peter Levine, director of the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement at Tufts University. “Somehow that should have been turned into, for Democrats, a revival of progressive policy, and in a neutral way, a revival of democracy starting with young people.”

“So far, it hasn’t happened,” he added.

It isn’t going to happen. It’s the result of writing checks your bank balance can’t cash. It’s the result of taking advantage of the gullibility of youth for political gain by making promises that were unrealistic when they were made. It’s Obama politics.  Grand and soaring rhetoric, while pleasing to the emotions, have to be grounded in the real world.  Over promising has its downside – being unable to accomplish what you’ve promised to do.  Whether or not it is the fault of the politician or the “system”, the politician is the one who made the promises and he’s the one who will be held to account for his lack of accomplishment.  Or that’s the way it usually works.

Obama has never had a record on which he had to run (or defend).  For the first time in his life he’s compiling one.  And it isn’t anything to brag about.  It is that record – doing or continuing a lot of things he promised to change as well as not accomplishing things he said he would – that he’ll be forced to defend in 2012.

If the level of engagement this year (and yes, I know mid-terms see the level of engagement drop in comparison to presidential election years) presages the same sort of level in 2012, Mr. Obama may be in trouble.  Obviously 2 years is a lifetime in politics.  But certain little things indicate that the Obama magic of 2008 just doesn’t work like it once did.   A stop in Cleveland to rally the vote attracts only 8,000 to an arena he filled with 16,000 in 2008.  Democratic candidates avoiding being linked to him or having him help their campaigns.

Many like to cite Bill Clinton as an example of what Barack Obama will do to survive and thrive if the GOP wins the House.   Barack Obama is no Bill Clinton.  Clinton was – whether you liked him or not – the best consummate politician of our era, bar none.   The “triangulation” strategy allowed him to work with a Republican Congress to get what he wanted – something he learned after being defeated once as Governor in Arkansas.   Obama is much more an ideologue.  And if anyone could be more self-absorbed (and impressed with himself) than Clinton, it is Obama.  Obama has never suffered electoral defeat so he hasn’t learned Clinton’s lesson.   That will become obvious in the next 2 years.

The question, of course, is whether he and his campaign staff will have the accomplishments necessary to reengage and reenergize key constituencies such as the youth vote in time for 2012.  That depends, in large part, on how Obama retools his approach to working with the GOP.  And, to be quite blunt about it, it also depends, in large part, on how the GOP conducts itself as well.  My hopes are not very high in either area – which means the political season of the next 2 years ought to be very interesting indeed.

~McQ


House seats still moving toward GOP

Yesterday as I made my predictions, RealClear Politics was showing 123 safe Democrat seats and 163 safe Republican seats.

Today, while checking, RCP had changed those numbers to 121/163.  That means 2 seats for the Dems have moved out of “safe” and into “likely”.

Additionally 3 have moved from “likely” to “leans” Dem and 6 have moved from “leans” Dem to toss up (34 toss ups yesterday, 40 today).

Not a good trend if you’re  a Democrat hoping for a miracle.

RCP now has it +65 for the GOP.  I’ll stick with my +61.

~McQ


2010 Midterm Elections

According to Chris Cilliza of The Fix, Charlie Cook, one of the best of the Democratic Party election handicappers, isn’t high at all on the chances of House Democrats of retaining the majority.  Watch the video – he immediately says the same thing I’ve been saying – there is no “communication problem” with President Obama.  Instead he’s sees what has happened to Obama and the Democrats as being “fundamental and total miscalculations” on their part.

Cook also finds it hard, after discussions with what he calls the brightest of House Dems, he finds it very hard to “come up with a scenario in which the Democrats don’t loose the House”.

Interesting comparision: Bush/Iraq = Obama/Health Care. Now, I don’t know if I’m as pessimistic as Cook seems to be (and trust me Cook knows this infinitly better than I do as he’s proven election after election), but it is certainly true that I think House Democrats will loose a significant number of seats and their easy majority will become a difficult one next January where they’ll actually have to take Blue Dogs seriously since it might be that bloc that provides the swing votes necessary for either side to have their way.

Cilliza finds another respected election handicapper who disagrees slightly with Cook – not with Democratic losses, just with the amount:

Stu Rothenberg, another noted political handicapper in Washington, has pegged Democratic House losses as between 24 and 28 seats. He writes: “We currently expect Republicans to fall short of the 40 seats they would need.”

In a polarized House, the loss of between 24 and 28 (I think it could actually be a little higher than that) is significant. The health care bill passed the House by 3 votes if my memory serves me correctly. As I point out above, controversial bills would have to be toned down and take a much more conservative tone to pass the House if those gains above are realized.

But to this point, all of the above is idle speculation. In terms of an election 9 months is an eternity. What I think will help cement either Rothenberg or Cook’s prognostications, however, is if the Democrats manage, by hook or crook, to pass health care legislation – especially with no Republican votes for it. Then I think Cook has it right. I think the voter’s wrath will be such that any name on the ballot with a “D” after it will be fair game.

~McQ